tv C-SPAN Cities Tour in Concord Massachusetts CSPAN August 11, 2017 7:04pm-8:06pm EDT
we are already very strong. we are considering considerable sanctions at a very high level. probably you can say as strong as they get. thank you very much, everybody. thank you. [applause] >> for the next hour, a book tv exclusive. visits concord, massachusetts to learn more about its unique history and literary life. for six years, we have traveled to u.s. cities bringing the book scene to our viewers.
you can watch more of our visit that c-span.org/citiestours. . in concord,re massachusetts on lexington road, also known as the battle road. where the redcoats marched into the north bridge on april 19 of 1775, starting the american revolution. this house was standing there then. eventually much later than that, it becomes the home of amos bronson alcott and his family. one of the daughters, louisa may alcott, in this house writes a book that really changes a lot of the way people think about children, the way they think about young women, the way they think about mature women. a very progressive book for its day and today it istill remains this because it is a true to life story of four young women and their parents.
victor alcott was an educator in the early days. mrs. alcott was a very progressive thinker who was deeply in love with mr. alcott. they were in boston when alcott met emerson. emerson was well ensconced there. he felt this town has something special to offer. it had the political revolution in 1775. a literary revolution in the 1800s. mr. emerson really wanted alcott to move here. i want toott's study, focus what is above the fireplace. this is really an expression of mr. alcott's lifelong belief i want to focus what is above the fireplace. seashills are weird, the scooped in scooped in vein if
learning's altar vanishes from the plain. that is an elaborate way of never stop learning. you're never too old to keep going. that is very important. mr. alcott dedicated most of his life to education. in the early years, he educated the young and his ideas were extremely unusual for the day. it was an era where most teachers were concerned with -- some of the expressions we find kind of funny -- if a boy is bot not bad now, he is about to become a just go ahead and strike. if you spoil the rod, you spoil the child. mr. alcott thought of it as a walking stick. he would not strike the students. he allowed questions in the classroom which was frowned upon by most teachers. the teacher knows what you have to know so why yoare you
encouraging questions? he had a lot of difficulty with people getting nervous about these unusual techniques, yet the children were learning more and they loved mr. alcott. it was really the right thing, hiwas just 100 years in s time. he taught adults as well and he did find he could finally do that in this room in 1879. here we have one of the cofounders of the school of philosophy, that is what he called his adult learning opportunity that started in this roo im.. mr. emerson one set of bronson alcott that mr. alcott is the former genius of our day. these twomr. emerson one set ofn gentlemen were closest of friends. they walked together on a daily basis and really supported each other in everything.
it was not a surprise that he helped cofounded this concord school of philosophy. the first year began in this room. it soon was overflowing these walls. people even stood outside so they can hear. donatedhe attendees a small accessed lecture hall. that was the building that people thought it was a barn. it was meant to be a very rustic looking structure as a lecture hall. when it comes to finances, the alcotts said they had the alcott sinking fund. it seems their financing got worse and worse. mr. alcott was not always paid very well for what he was doing. it was not that he was not working hard, he was just a little too innovative and people did not appreciate enough what
he was doing. one time he said promises were not always kept. shal, but iuy a would do better. he was always trying hard, but not necessarily doing well. sometimes it meant all the women in the household were pitching in in a way that was not considered very ladylike. it was supposed to be the man doing all the earning and the woman cooking and cleaning and raising the children. they were a little bit unusual financially that way. they were definitely struggling a lot of the time. here we are in the alcott dining room. they took meals here. mrs. alcott's english china was sometimes used. this was their best china. " is for her"m'is fo" i
maiden name, may. is china. mrs. alcott had a funny saying , she said we will always be a respectable family because we have find china. she was not very serious about it. she was pleased to have this in her family. in this direction, we have some wonderful portraits. this one is particularly interesting. it's of louisa may alcott. she looks less well in this portrait than she did a few years earlier because she is 38 years old here. she had been in the civil war as a union army nurse, contracted typhus and ammonia. she was treated with heavy doses of mercury. today we know mercury is not
good to ingest. back then it was a medication. they thought the disease was leaving you as you are also losing your teeth and hair. she managed to recover from all of this much to the amazement of many people because others that were as sick as she was did not recover. famoushealy, a very portrait artist at that time, learned that the famous ms. alcott was in italy the same time he was. little women have become an international hit. someone recently said to me that louisa may alcott in that day was more famous than j.k. rowl ing. probably because there was not competition. she was a huge international sensation. this george healy asked ms. alcott if he could paint her. i competition. she was a huge international
sensation. say today we are very proud that we have this george healy painting in our dining room. in only other dining room america that has a george healy in it is in the white house. he was in that day the big picture that was summoned to paint presidents. it was quite an honor for her. she was very disappointed. she said i look like a smoky relic from the boston fire. it was a terrible disaster in boston. she thought she looked like she stepped out of that fire. she said we should hang it behind a door. and then we have a likeness of elizabeth alcott. she is the actual model in little women. she is the only one whose name does not change in little women. she died just before they moved into this house. they spent a whole year fixing this house up and she came many
times, she saw the work they were doing. they were excited. this is the place they lived the longest. yet, she sort of knew because she was so ill that perhaps she would not be living here. she even said she thought sleepy hollow might be her new home and that is what happened. if you look at thisshe even arct leads into the parlor, the girls hungen as young women, were a curtain between these two rooms so the table gets moved out of the way and it to become this stage. they had many wonderful sets and scenery and costumes. the audience would sit here. women," towards the beginning of the book, the girls will put on a play as a christmas present.
that is really a play that lousia diisa did write. they performed it in the dining room. at one point in little women, it describes the audience sitting on a cot that collapses during the play. these things really happened to them all the time and it was always louisa saying don't act like something is wrong. she was really the one who loved dramatic impulse. i think that showed in her writing. her early experience doing these plays with her sisters helped to inform her writing style. louisa loved making up stories. she often made them up just out loud when they walked along, taking a walk in the area around walden pond with henry david thoreau. she would also record and do a
lot of writing. i would say she was probably writing every day. she loved it. it was a release for her as well, an outlet. she did not have a tremendous amount of success at first, but she had some success almost from the beginning in the sense that she had short stories and poems published early on and i think that was enough to keep her going. at one juncture where she was teaching school in boston and boarded with james fields, a famous publisher and his wife, she showed mr. fields some of her writing and was very hopeful that she is living in the maybe he will take an interest. he told her stick to your teaching, you cannot write. maybe he will take anthat made her more determined. she kept going. much later after little women, loanaid mr. fields back a that he had given her to help with the establishment of her
school and she said with all due respect, i think i shall stick to my writing as it pays better than my teaching. she really did come. circle and became a big financial success eventually. now coming up to the second floor, we have the parents' bedrom. om. may alcott, the youngest bedroom. this bedroom. this room is the most popular, the most important to most people -- were louisa may alcott wrote little women. this is her bedchamber. originally, she shared it with her sister anna, called meg in the story. louisa was jo. she had a little half-moon desk built for louisa by her father and sat
and wrote little women. in that era, it was commonly thought that brainwork such as writing would ruin a woman's health. doctors even had written article that they have now proven it. even if you were not concerned medically, people thought it was not seemly for a woman to write seriously, to write for a publication. it was fine to write letters but this was something you should reserve for the men. the fact that her family supported her this way was really quite amazing. the building of this desk was more than just a convenience. it was really a wonderful support biologically for louisa may alcott. her mother was equally supportive. phe gave her a suit and a ca she could have to concentrate. pen alcott also gave her a and wrote a little note saying
your muse inspire. she had wonderful support from her family. now, little women was a simple story to louisa. it was really the family story. she did not really think much would come of it when she sent it off to the publishers but she noted in her journal that they really lived most of it. looked at it and didn't think that much of it either but he gave it to his niece who loved it, loved it more than anything she had ever written. the publisher decided we will go with this and conservatively started off with a very small number but that first edition, about 2500 books, sold out very fast. more copies were printed and people then as now might have
been a little surprised it is such a simple story but it was way ahead of its time in many ways. it walked a fine line between leading people into more progressive thought such as the idea that a woman can be independent, a woman can have that she couldn, have a temper and not be villain.d the all of these human qualities that women were often told to suppress came out in the person of jo marge villain. all of these human and in the pf along.may alcott all the family was not perfect at all. flaws.l have yet, they supported each other, they loved each other. they never felt sorry for each other and sat around and said i guess i cannot do anything. they kept going. this is a very inspiring flaws. yet, they supported each other, they loved each other. role model for people to read this book, especially young women for
whom the book was intended. little women succeeded beyond louisa's wildest imagining. it made her a superstar of the day. this changed everything, partially because her very honest publisher, thomas miles advised her to keep the copyright which was wonderful advice because that meant she could really make money on the book. she became quite wealthy by the standards of the day. you can think of are almost as a millionaire today. that made the family very comfortable. it allowed all of their debts to be repaid. generous, she was always doing kindnesses for others. if somebody needed something and she could do it, she often would be helping others in much the same way they had been helped when she was young, particular
emerson.waldo he was always trying to make findingt they were money. always trying to help them. ouisa took note of that and try to do the same thing. it was interesting -- the literary history of concord is so multifaceted. and depending on interest, you could easily just bypass the alcott home because you did read the book. there is something about this particular book and this particular house that is unique in the sense that as far as i know it is the only piece of literature that not only has maintained its importance to so many people -- it never has been out of print, widely translated, well over 50 translations, very beloved of people of all cultures.
it was written and set in a house that is not open to the public. when people walk through this house, they often say to me this is like walking through the book. someone once said is like you can really go to hogwarts after reading harry potter. but hogwarts is not a real place and this is. >> it is really a house of two revolutions. it stood and watched the american revolution. later, the second american revolution with intellectualism and thought. it is such a charming house with so many discoveries. i love working here and that every week i am finding some graffiti or some object in the corner. come look at this thing we just found. it is a house that keeps on giving in a way i have not seen.
it is really a house full of places to be discovered and for inspiration as well. bywas built around 1760 william emerson and his family. one of the first occupants of the house. william emerson is the grandfather of the emerson, the love. we all know and whhe and his wife had several children, the last of which was born only 10 days before he left to be part of the revolution. he knew her for only a short time. while he was here, he was one of the town leaders and like many of the reverence at that time, you not only led in the church but he would have gatherings to talk about the american revolution. he was a philosopher. he started the house's amazing book collection. it contains about 3000 volumes that started all the way back to
the first minister that lived in this house and continued until early 20th century when later residents were collecting the books who wrote here. when we think about the books, n later residents were this really is the heart and soul of the house. all the people that have touched these books, used these books -- so many of them have inscriptions. in the second floor, there are bookshelves that can easily be removed in case of a fire. we have many of them here. we just finished a conservation project to look at the books and take the 250 books that predated 1750 and three house them. we continue to look at it. many of the books are actually inscribed like this one that was inscribed from emerson to his pley.d sarah ridple they were related. ripley was this amazing woman
who lived here. she was a scholar, a mother. some wonderful anecdotes talk about when she would be rocking a cradle with one foot and reading a book in sanskrit with the other. for emerson, the relationship was really in important thing. they had interests in the outdoors, writing and reading and learning. a book like this where it is inscribed by hammerson is one of the many ones we have in the collection. notes,oks have little the people that have lived here have left little notes or given notes back and forth to individuals. it is a collection that tells us a lot about the people who read and used these books. when we are standing in the study, this is really about the landscape as well.
some of these windows in this room that back in the revolutionary period that the emerson family first looked out and saw the commotion at the north bridge with the shot heard around the world. they talk about it in the journal that they are standing here looking out the window and thinking of the process being in the house and witnessing the start of what would be a major event for our nation in its earliest roots. william emerson stayed at this house for about five years. it was abuilt around 1770. he and his wife lived here for a few years. he eventually got ill. he was trying to come back in 1776 and died. his legacy to the house is really instrumental to laying the groundwork of the intellectual.
he only lived here for a short time. william emerson'swilliam emersod herself with small children living in the old manse. when she looks to what was next in her life, he encountered as a ezra ripley. they soon married. what began was the second generation of reverence who lived here at the house. an interesting anecdote is when ezra came to the town and they had to vote if they wanted him to become the minister. almost everyone said yes except for one person voting no saying he looked a little frail in fl. in fact, he lived in the house for almost 60 years and outlived everyone. he was the old manse's longest residents.
and he took over the house looked at everything that was here for generations back, a standing desk that was his went hundreds ofealed sermons he had written. known to write sermons that lasted several hours. a very intellectual scholar, philosopher. he lived in this town for quite a while. after his wife died and he was becoming elderly, the large parlor became his bedroom. the two floors were probably getting too difficult for him. this was a place where he would write and live and accept guests to his house as well. ezra really had a lasting impression on the house. many in the books in the library we have are from him, inscribed and the name continues over the
generations here. you can really see that influence he had as a reverent and how later. ralph waldo emerson was born in 1803 in boston. he is a local boy. he spent his life in the city but for a brief time he came to the old manse when he was around 12. he came to visit the property throughout his life and again whein 1834. when he and his mother came for a visit, the reverend ezra ripley lived here, he was becoming elderly so they helped care for him for a growth -- brief time. emerson, even though he was born a city boy, conquered was a home for him. 1834, he comes to the old manse and puts himself in the
upstairs study which was also a bedroom. that is where he wrote the first draft of "nature." he came briefly for a nine-month period. it overlapped with ezra. this really early vision of continued for people who live and work here, including emerson, who sat on a chair like this one. the original of the emerson chair is in the concord museum. and the northseum bennet street school came together to reproduce the emerson chair. the visitors could sit in the chair where emerson wrote "nature" and lookout themselves over the landscape. people look at the original and see what they have produced, this is green and the original chair is black. chairs, whatgreen
it would have been if emerson sat in it, many were painted green in the period. later, victorians loved to paint things black so the chair has changed a little bit. when people sit in it, it sort of envelops you and you feel very held. the other edition, this wood piece, is its natural color. this is a furniture piece of adapted use. it started out as a chair. possibly ezra when he sat in it, he wanted the writing a little taller. it was a homemade mockup of some wood to create a higher writing surface. this was an important place for visitors to come and look over the landscape. right after the american revolution started, when the second revolution at this house of literature and american
writing, they can look out over the same view that emerson had. reallybook "nature" is the work that emerson wrote that is best known. many look to it as the start of of american transcendentalism. at that time, it was the growing idea of looking into the words of a person. it was philosophical and a religious thought. in social andd political as well, that an individual can look at themselves, look at nature and look at that for inspiration and spiritualdear trol response. looking at everyone equally. , trying of abolitionism
to fight for the right of and education were really important. social parts. that could differ from some of the other writing at the time when you look at romanticism and some of the other philosophical thoughts. it did look very inward and did not have the social and political twist to it too. many of the people that were involved in the american movement affected everyone. to writeson took pen this philosophy down, it set off a series of conversations and devotees that really wanted to subscribe to what emerson was saying.
others writes here, start to trickle in at the same time. margaret fuller comes in. the alcott family. they are all sort of mingling here. emerson is loosely at the core of that. he did not sort of take the flag and run with it, but he was this quiet leader of this idea, transcendentalism idea. concord is so well-placed for that. it was beautiful and continues to be so today. it was really this perfect place for inspiration to happen. it's interesting because transcendentalism is very hard to distill to one particular thought. there were volumes and volumes. even today, written about what is at the core. emerson really believed the individual spirit has this great capacity to think about the world and that anything, as
small as a leaf or water droplet or person, really was -- you could see through the world in that element, that person. it was a very optimistic view. it certainly was a social awareness component to it that they really wanted to make the world and better place at a time there was so much change in our city. ir emerson to write that, often wonder how aware was he that he was about to really change things. hawthorne is one of our great figures in this house. one of the things i like about the old manse is it is so layered in history. there are these intellectual greats from the early ministers andmerson to fuller nathaniel hawthorne. they were all visiting, staying
here. it is amazing we not only have one, but several great american writers that are central to the story. around 1842, nathaniel hawthorne and his new wife come to the old manse. they have rented the house from the family. they are newlyweds. garden was vegetable for them as a wedding present. windows tell ahe little history. hing froman actinetc nathaniel hawthorne and his wife when they used this room. ring thather wedding had a little diamond in it and said this is his study, nathaniel hawthorne, 1843. written with her diamond,
inscribed by thine husband at sunset. you get this wonderful graffiti that is on a window pane. ideaone to point out this of golden light in this room. it is so important to the history. we just installed this wonderful golden wallpaper. nathaniel and his wife loved gold. they use it in all of their houses. there was a hanging lamp that shed beautiful light in the room and they put on a golden paper. in short of getting a quija b oard, we have to use our best educated guess. a color scheme for the period. they really didn't have a lot of money so that intake a lot of colors -- they did not take a lot of colors so thaey went with something that was not excessive. this is historic wallpaper that
has been reproduced for us. when nathaniel hawthorne lived in this space, it was a study that he and his wife really loved. they talk about repeatedly coming to the study at night. they would read together, right write together. sewing she was doing. write tthis is the desk that nl hawthorne used when he wrote. it is a pretty simple construction. you can actually bring it up or down depending on the angle you want. it is what he really liked. he actually used a similar desk as well. pretty standard for the time. it allowed him to face the wall, not too many distractions. it is a pretty simple construction. fire. close to the he could get a little bit of a breeze into the room as well, but this was his desk that he
wrote so much. he wrote about the old manse and his time here. hawthorne talking about the dingy, old, antique furniture when he was here in the 1840's. this idea that so much of the objects, so many were these older objects from the ministers when they first lived here in the 1760's and later. this is the environment he is writing in. he's actually very respectful of that. he loves the authenticity and intellectualism of those ministers and what they did here at the house. he, about a ver he talks about it very fondly. nathaniel hawthorne was a very althoughnd of emerson,
did not fully agree with transcendentalism. it was a little bit too optimistic. he did not agree with all of the tenets of it, although as an intellectual, he respected that in his colleague. it was a little bit tooeven though hawthorne was not heself a transcendentalist, was socializing and being part of that group. it is a very interesting relationship they have in this house. both gentleman in the same room in the upstairs study, at two different desks writing and doing work that would become their touchtone projects of their careers. we will go to the third-floor attic. this is actually a great place. at different times, it was used for rooms for people that here,ing here, studying overflow space. it is a great area so we will take a look at the graffiti upstairs. when visitors come to the old manse, all visitors see the
downstairs area but only some will take a tour to the attic. there is so much to discover and so much graffiti from early residents. i will show you some of my favorites. this room has some wonderful artwork. all of the wonderful scholars and intellectuals and writers that live here, artists also made the old manse their residence, including edward simmons. hen he was a little boy, actually stayed here and wrote an autobiography and includes some of the moments when he was at the old manse. inactually drew on the wall wonderful pencils. you see these great birds and botanicals in the area. one of my favorites in this corner is a wonderful bee.
when you think about all of the kids today that right on the walls, to think that a young aspiring artist that would one day make the murals that would be in the largest and important buildings in our country started his time here as a student, as a youngster. he also wrote above the door all whogood luck to come in or go out." i'll show you one more area that i love down the hall. the house was built in the late 1760's. this was one of the areas where ministers would come and stay at the old manse. they could come up and practice
their sermon, including in a little room in the corner that we believe they used for this purpose. wonderful fireplace, graffiti from hawthorne, emerson, the ripley family all throughout the road. om. we are still trying to solve the mystery of all of them but there must be at least two dozen signatures around this particular fireplace. these are wonderful bits of history. this is one of the areas that the old manse sharines. it is really the touch of the people that live here and wanted to leave their initials here as well. this is really about people who lived here and went through all the things we go through. we have the newlyweds like hawthornes, when they moved
here, struggling to make ends meet and create a family and good life as newlyweds. emerson who is trying to figure out who he was. the alcotts have been here for generations. a very authentic site where you will see objects from the 1700s that have been recycled and reused over the years and have the fingerprint of so many generations before. it is a very personable house and it is a house with people can come and see the layered history and feel a connection, that they can be inspired by the people that live here, that fought here, that sometimes struggled here. son's influence on concord has been lasting. when he lived here, people love him. he was known to be this amazing writer and a little bit of a local celebrity. the town really embraced him
throughout his life even when ande was a fire at his home they raise money to help support him after that. he was a really central town figure. to this day, concord is an amazing and they raise money to help support him after that. place that really understood the importance of the outdoors, preserving the past, looking ahead to the future. it's great to see that their spirit has continued from the time we have been talking about, and this idea of social justice and preserving our landscape. it really continues to this day. the people that come to concord placetoday can really be transd back in time because the town has been wonderful and preserving the history. of buildings, the landscapes. so many people come to concord to find that inspiration. emerson's study as
it was re-created across the road from emerson's house in concord. it is now in the museum. in 1930 when this building was built, the family made a determination that one, the study was the heart of the house. there were already in number of people coming to concord to see the study. they would come up to the front door to look at him sitting in the study and there was more demand to see it then they would fulfill. this was the moment when the ralph waldo emerson association was formed. buildingded this new was being built across the street and they decided to send the study over there. for this building were bit in orderlittle to reproduce the study exactly.
the ceiling height, dimensions, everything is exactly the same. all bit in order to reproduce the study exactly. the items in the study were sent over and all his items were those that were there at the time of emerson's death. there is a photograph in 1879 of emerson sitting in that chair. you can see the study is exactly as it was. boston was born in in 1830 but he was the grandson concord's emerson, minister in the late 1760's, early 1770's. emerson was very aware of that, of that heritage. and then wentvard to harvard divinity school and was in the pulpit of boston's second paris for some years. he was a minister. he was trained as a minister. but he left the pulpit. withd some difficulties the doctrines and he wanted to
move on. moment wherehat new opportunities arise, where someone could go and speak and get paid for it, and he started doing that. he started publishing. those things work out for him. 1839on married in but his wife did not live for long. he first visited europe and when he came back, he went to concord. in 1844, the family's house was still there so emerson stayed at the manse for the year and that is when he wrote "nature."
-- properly the given credit as the first transcendentalist manifesto in america which kind of hit like a bombshell and made him internationally known. and kind of set him up her life as his career as a public intellectual, as a speaker, as a writer. town,d was a farming about 100 farms, 60 acres each writer that perio -- right through that period. because the courts met in concord, there were some lawyers in town too. and little bit of manufacturing. emerson knew everybody. there were only about 1500, 1800 people in town. emerson knew everybody and was much admired for his reputation.
he did not have ups and downs. his reputation was going up his whole life. emerson made an effort to gather thinkers around him. he may even have had aspirations for that sort of loosely organized commune of sorts. he loved to converse with certain intelligent people. bronson alcot is a good examplet. henry thoreau is a good example. a version.bronson alcot is a gd emerson was always on the lookout for america's poet. this idea of an original american voice was very important to emerson. he himself was an original american voice, but he wanted more. ultimately, you find a version.
that in emerson's study, you would have gatherings that could include on any given night emerson and thor eau, nathaniel hawthorne, margaret fuller, and who knows who else happened to be around. students from harvard who came out, they would join the conversation. that conversation which was really margaret fuller's great art and bronson alcott's great art, the conversations alcott says no man may record. emerson's children were frequent visitors to the study and louisa may alcott when she was young was given the great privilege of making use of the study.
that meant a great deal to her. you can imagine a very young louisa may alcott reading plato in the study. you canhis last international ts 1873. there was a fire in the house and ellen, his daughter, took him to egypt so the house could be rebuilt. that is what we see in the study study, lydia 1873 and edith emerson were responsible for the renovations of the house. he came back to a new house, but his career sort of slowed off from their. re. he died in 1883. that was kind of monumental. that was a very big deal.
,ot unexpected, so not tragic attended with all of the passing of an era kind of rhetoric you would expect. quite different from thoreau's death in 1862 which was tragic. 44, nearly 45. for the circle, local circle of intellectuals, thoreau was as prominent of emerson, but he did not haveintellectuals, thore e'd international recognition but everybody knew who thoerreaus was and that he was in many ways a real intellectual peer to emerson. his passing was tragic.
emerson's was nostalgic in a way. emerson is central to the literary history of concord. both because of the prominence of his writings, the subjects of his writings, but also because of those deliberate efforts he made to organize higher thought in america, particularly in the 1840's and 1850's. an activist intellectual. surviveshe study essentially intact, and that was deliberate, that was ellen's work. she wanted it to stay the way he left it. that is a privilege and responsibility we want to live up to. as long as it is still the same as it was, we will try to keep it the same as it was.
often leaders of walden, when they first come to the pond, are very puzzled, maybe a little disappointed because when you read walden, you are really expected to be amazed at the landscape. thoreau could be every day just staggered by a landscape as humble as this, that takes a little getting used to. eau could be every day just staggeredso it wd now it is an icon of american literary history. henry david thoreau first came out here as a little boy and he remembered that excursion long after, but he came here with his .amily .
actually together stand for -- to gather sand for his father's sand gathering manufacturing enterprise, but he came here to live. it was actually on july 4, 1845 live and was out here for two years after that. his friend, ralph waldo live em, had not long before but the property we are standing on now as thea wood lot. the soil around walden is not good for much except growing trees. he asked emerson if he could put up a structure here and state here for a while and emerson sure. his principal purpose was to find a servant of -- sort of writers studio for himself. it was something he was thinking about for several years and the specific project he had in mind was a book in memorial to his
brother john who died in 1841. the book is about a trip he took with john in 1839. they were both very young, but they took the trip by boat up to new hampshire and that is loosely the thread that runs through a week on the concord in merrimack. while he was here, it is easy to imagine thoreau was all alone. if you read the book, you would think he is halfway up the slope of the mountain. that he was at the end of the world somewhere, but he is not. he's connected to town. he is a little over a mile away, especially if you take the railroad cut. you're in town in no time. he had lots and lots of visitors while he was out here.
it is not that he was isolated, but he had plenty of the solitude that he wanted as a thinker and a writer. built, he tells us in the first chapter, was 10 by 15 feet, which is a substantial space, about the size of most workshops in that period. you can get a lot done and it was sufficient for thoreau. he soon planted a field of beans buttried to get by on them, for the rest of his living, it things he would get from
town. thoreau came to walden with wildness is.hat not the wilderness. wildness. part of the exercise and coming himselfn was to remove from culture. that sounds drastic, but you catch artists. tahiti to put all of europe behind him. this is something emerson suggested in a number of places. he thought it was important for americans to put that behind them. one way is to live by yourself in a house with no neighbors.
historically there had been other people living out here, but they were gone when thoreau was here. came to after thoreau walden, the idea of the book started to occur to him. if you look at his journal from that period, there are passages that were worked into some of the early drafts and the lectures he gave. in the beginning of the book, he was syria city on the part of his neighbors. they wanted to know if he was lonely, aren't you afraid? he started answering those and itns at lectures grew from there. of course he changed, it was not just a narrative of my the subtitlest
said, and the publisher got rid of it eventually. it wasn't just a narrative of living in the woods. it is a more complicated book than that. there was walden the experience, and the book was a longer project. it was not published until 1854 and went through seven drafts. in the interim, thoreau took up a new methodology of observation , he took up a new way of oferving the world and a lot that is reflected in the final draft of "walden." takes some intellectual exercise to pick apart those threads and figure out what it is he is up to while he is here. was more successful
than his previous book. the deal thoreau had made with his publisher was that if it did not sell, thoreau would pay for the publication. he ended up being responsible for the publication. "walden" sold better than that. it only went through one addition during thoreau" 's lifetime. thoreau it didn't sell better than a week. one of the things thoreau is careful to point out in "walden ," he does not mean for anybody .o imitate his experience he talked about it as an experiment. rather, he wanted his readers to response kind of awed to the remarkable fact of man
and nature. if readers take that away, that is good enough. if they thought about the relationship between what they do to get a living and what their life consists of, he would have counted that as successful. our visit to concord, massachusetts is a book to be exclusive. we showed it to introduce you to c-span's cities tour. you can watch more of our visits at c-span.org. withnight, our interview omarosa manigault. then, part of the netroots nation polic